Three men were rescued from a sinking fishing boat early Saturday morning by the U.S. Coast Guard.
And for at least one of those men, it was the second time he has been rescued at sea.
Tony Bessent, 48, Mark Williams, 45, and Allen Edwards, 45, were fishing around 60 miles east of Georgetown when a large wave knocked out the front windows of the CJR, a 48-foot-fishing vessel, said Chris Conklin of C&C Seafood in Murrells Inlet, which owns the boat.
At around 11:30 p.m. Friday the Coast Guard received a distress signal from a emergency position indicating radio beacon, commonly called an EPIRB, said Petty Officer 1st Class Christopher Evanson.
A helicopter crew launched an HH-65 Dolphin from Charleston and located the disabled fishing vessel about 60 miles east of Georgetown around 2:30 a.m. In addition to the emergency beacon, the boaters had lit emergency flares to help the rescue crew find them.
None of the men was harmed, said Conklin.
It was the second close call for Bessent. Nearly six years ago, the local fishing boat captain was fishing with Gary McCombs and his brother-in-law Johnny W. Brown about 50 miles off the coast of Cape Fear, N.C., when a 30- to 40-foot rogue wave hit the boat, destroying it.
Bessent and McCombs were rescued after spending hours in the rough waves, but Brown was lost at sea.
The Lost At Sea Memorial at Morse Park Landing in Murrells Inlet was established as a tribute to Brown and others who had been lost at sea after that accident.
Calls to Bessent were not returned, but Conklin said Bessent has been a captain for C&C Seafood since around the time of that 2005 accident.
He said the wind and large waves Friday night "blew every window out of the boat and every door out of the boat."
Ron Steve of the National Weather Service said there were gale force winds Friday night. The wind was at about 31 knots in the area of the boat, with gusts up to 41 knots.
Steve said the seas were between 10 and 12 feet.
"It was not a good night to be out there," he said.
Conklin said the boat's electrical systems were "fried" and the boat began filling up with water. He estimated the cost to repair the boat at around $60,000.
"But nothing compares to the cost of one of the fisherman's life so we're just glad everyone is OK," he said.
He said he was told that the boat did not completely sink and the men were not in the frigid water for any long period of time.
Evanson said the vessel's emergency radio beacon was "critical" to the Coast Guard being able to locate the men.
"This successful rescue illustrates the importance of maintaining a registered EPIRB while under way. When a satellite picks up an EPIRB's signal it calculates an accurate position of the distress and the Coast Guard is able to dispatch rescue crews to that location," he said in a news release.
He said he hopes that other area fishermen "learn from this rescue and go and buy an EPIRB and register it."
Contact GINA VASSELLI at 443-2434.